“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” - George W. Bush

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kosovo, Will the Cesspool of Europe Overflow, Again?

The Russians just want to be helpful.
Kosovo: the heat is on
Posted by Harry de Quetteville on 25 Oct 2007 at 14:51 Telegraph

Kosovo is bubbling up again. It's easy to write it off as a grim wasteland of economic gloom, bureaucratic stagnation and seemingly the world's entire collection of discarded plastic bags.

But it's worth remembering that this is in the centre of Europe, a two and a half flight from London. There are still 17,000 NATO soldiers there, keeping the peace. Come December they might really have to start earning their corn.

December 10th is the deadline for the last, of last ditch, final (honestly) talks between Serbia and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership to sort out a future for the place.

You will remember that though ethnically Kosovo is 9/10ths Albanian, it is a province of Serbia. And a cherished province at that. Kosovo separatist and Serb forces dispatched by Slobodan Milosevic fought a war there in 1999 until NATO jumped in and drove out the Serbs.

Since then it’s been administered mostly by the UN. And nothing has happened, nothing has changed. The Serbs are willing to let Kosovo be autonomous, the ethnic Albanians want nothing short of independence. There is no deal.

What is the difference between autonomy and independence? Not a huge amount, but, crucially, combustible notions like pride, history, and nationhood.

The ramifications of failure are huge.

A poll this week suggests Serbia's government will collapse over Kosovo. Now the current Serbian government, filled with 'moderate hardliners' (I love that phrase) like Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica may not seem very appetising. But it is a lot better than the hardline hardliners, like Tomislav Nikolic, leader of the Radical party.

To give you a sense of nationalist sentiment in Serbia, The Radicals won elections earlier this year. It's the biggest party, but isn’t in power because it couldn't form a majority government. Nikolic is only in charge because official leader Vojislav Šešelj is in the Hague charged with war crimes.

Then there is Russia, which backs its traditional ally Serbia in wanting to keep Kosovo. Earlier this week a Russian diplomat said that independence for Kosovo would set a "precedent" which could see Abkhazia and South Ossetia break away from rival Georgia.

Instability in the Balkans and instability in the Caucasus can be a recipe for hundreds of thousands of deaths.

So hold on to your hat. Kosovo may seem boring now, as the diplomats shuttle around for yet more negotiations. But it might get pretty interesting soon.

Dangerously so.



93 comments:

  1. We're threatening to pull out our 1,600 or so troops if the Europeans don't reinforce Afghanistan.

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  2. on the surface there, not a good trade.

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  3. Cutler: We're threatening to pull out our 1,600 or so troops if the Europeans don't reinforce Afghanistan.

    If that threat has teeth (because it would expose the Europeans forces as being ineffective) then what's the point of having the Europeans in Afghanistan or anywhere at all?

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  4. To 2164th: Not sure for whom mean.

    To Teresita: It isn't intended to expose the European forces as ineffective.

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  5. If you mean, you'd rather have to reinforce European troops in Kosovo than send them to Afghanistan, I'd agree. But 1,600 US troops leaving Kosovo is potentially about more than simply 1,600 less bodies. Kosovars, for example, are getting restless as is.

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  6. From todays NYTImes:

    "While Washington is open to a diplomatic solution, Ms. Rice said, “Unfortunately the Iranian government continues to spurn our offer of open negotiations, instead threatening peace and security by pursuing nuclear technologies that can lead to a nuclear weapon, building dangerous ballistic missiles, supporting Shia militants in Iraq and terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, and denying the existence of a fellow member of the United Nations, threatening to wipe Israel off the map.”"

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/25/world/middleeast/25cnd-iran.html?hp

    "Spurn our offer of open negotiations"??? Since when have we been willing to negotiate openly with the Iranians?

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  7. That's the editorial "we" ash. She includes US with the EU negotiators.
    Would be my guess.

    But it is disingenuous

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  8. There are still 17,000 NATO soldiers there, keeping the peace. Come December they might really have to start earning their corn.
    Yep. And not a majority of trigger pullers among them - mostly rear echelon. In March 2004 we (KFOR) almost lost the province entirely despite having a larger and more capable force. Notably the March 04 riots were mostly frustration after some very local incidents, and not a concerted campaign as may happen now.

    You will remember that though ethnically Kosovo is 9/10ths Albanian
    Only after extensive ethnic cleansing of non-Albanians from 2000-present. Albanians were a minority until the 20th century, who have overwhelmed the Serb population with aggressive breeding.

    We're threatening to pull out our 1,600 or so troops...
    Notably the current Kosovo mess was created by US executive (that is : Clinton and Albright) interferance in Serbian affairs. Given free reign the Serbs would have long since fixed the problem (if we could get CNN to blink for about three weeks). Notably the KLA had three major supporters - al Qaida, the international narcotics trade, and the US of A. European forces in Kosovo have never been intended to be effective.

    ...if the Europeans don't reinforce Afghanistan. Hmmm, don't look now but Europeans are already 2/3 or ISAF (~26000/41000). The US is deploying about 1/10 the forces to Afghanistan (home of Taliban and al Qaida) as to Iraq (home of some .... well .... they're just these guys, y'know?, and oil fields).

    Kosovo is a freaking cesspool - trafficking in stolen cars, narcotics, guns, women and children. Playing footsie with al Qaida when it suits them. A government consisting entirely of genuine bandits. Our screwing around in the last 8 years has made it worse, and put us on the side of Muslim/tribal gangsters against the Christian Serbs. The Serbs may well be a drunken rabble, but when all is said and done they are very much part of and for western civilization.

    If we can wink at Turkey opressing 15 million Kurds we can wink at Serbia opressing 2 million Albanians. IMHO pulling out and letting Serbia do their worst is not a bad option. That'd free up nearly 20000 troops for the 'stan, make an ally of Serbia, and stomp on a nest of vipers. Good value.

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  9. "In the years after 9/11, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann worked at the highest levels of the Bush administration as Middle East policy experts for the National Security Council. Mann conducted secret negotiations with Iran. Leverett traveled with Colin Powell and advised Condoleezza Rice. They each played crucial roles in formulating policy for the region leading up to the war in Iraq. But when they left the White House, they left with a growing sense of alarm -- not only was the Bush administration headed straight for war with Iran, it had been set on this course for years."

    The Secret History of the Impending War with Iran That the White House Doesn't Want You to Know

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  10. Peacekeeper, roger all of that. If illegal immigration gets to a tipping point, protected by precedent, we can expect some deterioration in some southwestern boundaries.

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  11. If illegal immigration gets to a tipping point, protected by precedent, we can expect some deterioration in some southwestern boundaries.

    Deuce, I understand the US southwest is already over the tipping point speaking population wise. There are what 40, million Hispanics in the US (or marginally less than the total population of Iraq and Afghanistan combined)? While times remain good in the US of A (like they are now) there will be no unrest to be had. However, Gawd forbid, if there develops a depression/recession/opression climate (due to financial meltdown or energy crunch or WWIII or whatever) there is more than enough Hispanic population in the "Aztlan" area to cause Yugoslavia style problems and support an ethnic insurrection in that part of the US.

    They just lack motivation for the nonce. If immigration continues to exceed assimilation, and times goe bad just down the road .... hardly bears thinking about.

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  12. Pity the Serbs. They never had the PR of the Albanians.

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  13. "...if the Europeans don't reinforce Afghanistan. Hmmm, don't look now but Europeans are already 2/3 or ISAF (~26000/41000). The US is deploying about 1/10 the forces to Afghanistan (home of Taliban and al Qaida) as to Iraq (home of some .... well .... they're just these guys, y'know?, and oil fields)."

    Looking at NATO as a whole:

    Of the approximately 26,000 non-US NATO troops, 6,500 are British, 2,500 Canadian and 1,300 Dutch. Othwise, only Germany, Italy, Poland, and Turkey have also fielded national contingents of more than 1,000, and many of these countries are having debates over leaving. Others, such as Germany, France and Turkey, are either non-combat or don't allow their troops to go into the Southern part of the country in Pashtun land because it is too dangerous.

    "There are also potential concerns in Afghanistan with regard to national force restrictions, known as “caveats”. In late 2006, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said that one of the biggest problems facing NATO was national force restrictions on the use of troops and equipment, calling them “poison”. NATO’s top commander, General James Jones, estimated that there were about 102 national restrictions, 50 of which significantly hampered operations. Although they are generally classified for security reasons, some have been leaked, including a German restriction on "extended patrols" for Ger¬man troops. Other nations restrict night flights for fear of danger. The Germans and other nations have also forbidden deployment of their troops to eastern or southern Afghanistan, where they might face significant combat."

    How about defense spending? Not only are non-US NATO forces not catching up to the US, they are falling further behind. Between 2001 and 2005 countries such as Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Poland, Spain and Germany cut their active-duty forces, while the US increased its ranks by 50,000 men. The share of their GDPs contributed to defense dropped from 2.02% to 1.8%, according to the Pentagon. In comparison, according to the CIA regular US defense spending in 2005 increased to 4.06% (plus another 2% in supplimentals).

    To put the entire contribution in perspective, in 2003 non-US NATO countries had a collective GDP as large as the US’s and even greater manpower potential. It is only because expectations on both sides of the Atlantic are so low to begin with that this considered such a commitment.

    But don't take my word for it:

    "In February 2006, General James Jones had been forced to declare that NATO’s members “had not come up with the final one-fourth of the troops needed for a NATO Response Force” that was scheduled to head to Afghanistan for its first mission.

    During the November 2006 Riga Summit, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer broke the uneasy silence towards foot-dragging by “publicly calling for more troops in the south from nations that had not sent many, or any.” Two months earlier he had pleaded that “if you are member of an alliance based on solidarity, you have to deliver…we need to do more.”

    Although it prompted additional pledges that he said met 90% of military commander requests, it did not go over easy. “Nobody from any country or the NATO command structure will name the recalcitrant countries for the record, but off the record everyone knows who they are...”

    In February 2006, General James Jones had been forced to declare that NATO’s members “had not come up with the final one-fourth of the troops needed for a NATO Response Force. To this day, the NATO-led security force in Afghanistan is almost constantly short of helicopters, transports, troops, and equipment.

    Other transatlantic military leaders have spoken up about the problem. In October 2005, two former NATO chiefs, US General Joseph Ralston and German General Klaus Naumann said bluntly that European leaders have “lacked the political will” to improve military capabilities, and warned that “the viability of NATO as an alliance, and the ability of European countries to partner in any meaningful way with the US” was threatened.

    Former NATO commander Marine General James Jones said as well that “at a time when the alliance seems to be willing to politically accept more missions in the world, there’s a contradiction here in resourcing and capacity.” He continued, “I believe that…many of our allies who are below 2 percent should…look deeply at themselves and ask if they are doing all that they can do with regard to the overall effort, because you can’t have it both ways.” Retired Army General George Joulwan, former NATO supreme commander during the mid-1990s, also said that “Europe has to be convinced that the war on terror involves a commitment to global operations.”

    Gen. John Craddock, top U.S. general in Europe, said to the Armed Services Committee of the House of Representatives this March that “the defense budgets of many of these NATO nations have fallen to a level that jeopardizes their ability to make long-term strategic military commitments to meet the alliance’s 21st century ambitions…Our partners must seriously step up their efforts by contributing more troops and aid…Afghanistan is not only a central front in the war on terrorism, but the outcome there could determine the future of NATO.”

    Criticism is also increasingly visible from US political leadership. During a February, 2006, NATO defense ministers’ conference in Munich, Donald Rumsfeld “gently prodded his colleges to rethink defense spending,” saying, “It is always easier for all of us to use our scarce tax dollars to meet some of the desires and appetites we have at home. But unless we invest in defense and security, the reality is that our homelands can be at risk.” His successor, Robert Gates, also called on members to meet their commitment of devoting 2% of GDP to defense spending.

    This February, Democratic Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Ike Skelton said that, with regard to Afghanistan, US forces were doing their part, but he “didn’t believe our NATO partners yet are. And I’m concerned about that. They must meet their troop commitments and lift restrictions that they’ve placed on the troops that are currently in Afghanistan.”

    Democratic Chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Lantos said that “Europeans loved NATO when the alliance protected them from the menacing threat. But their ardor has cooled as NATO is called on to protect Afghanistan from devolving into a narco-terrorist state. NATO literally has to be for troops, and the numbers are still too few…Europeans have provided plenty of excuses for their failure to send adequate troops to Afghanistan…these excuses must end…” According to Lantos, “if the nations of Europe and the Gulf are unwilling to do their share to protect international security, then perhaps we should rethink the nature of our alliances with them.”"

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  14. The 2% of GDP cut off is itself a compromise pushed during the 1990s because almost none of the NATO countries were making the preexisting 3% cut off.

    Bulgaria 2.6% (2005)
    Canada 1.1% (2005)
    Czech Republic 1.81% (2005)
    Denmark 1.5% (2006)
    Estonia 2% (2005)
    France 2.6% (2006)
    Germany 1.5% (2005)
    Greece 4.3% (2005)
    Hungary 1.75% (2005)
    Iceland 0
    Italy 1.8% (2005)
    Latvia 1.2% (2005)
    Lithuania 1.2% (2006)
    Luxembourg 0.9% (2005)
    Netherlands 1.6% (2005)
    Norway 1.9% (2005)
    Poland 1.71% (2005)
    Portugal 2.3% (2005)
    Romania 2.47% (2005)
    Slovakia 1.87% (2005)
    Slovenia 1.7% (2005)
    Spain 1.2% (2005)
    Turkey 5.3% (2005)
    UK 2.4% (2005)
    US 4.06% (2005)

    You'll notice two of these, Turkey and Greece, are arming in part against themselves.

    Maybe next time we'll make it 1%.

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  15. There you go, cutler, the Dems threatening to take US out of NATO.

    Can spin that anyway one wants.

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  16. "...when they left the White House, they left with a growing sense of alarm -- not only was the Bush administration headed straight for war with Iran, it had been set on this course for years."

    That's what they keep saying anyway. More likely? The admin has spent the last few years assiduously avoiding that war without ever developing a policy that would move us out of the cul-de-sac we're in, leaving us at the mercy of noise makers who cannot even claim ex officio.

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  17. Cutler,

    Europe is underarmed, this is undoubtedly true and undeniable. Furthermore European force structures are still oriented towards homeland defence and have troubles deploying strategic distances.

    But don't take my word for it:
    Craddock and Jones okay, but
    Democrat...Tom Lantos said...
    Oh puhleeze.

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  18. FellowPeacekeeper.

    Something about the Democrats.

    Generally speaking, they're not the political pussies on sensitive issues that the Republicans are. And because of that they get away with things that the Republicans won't even touch.

    And that's the new head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

    Regardless, if the current path continues it won't just be Lantos speaking.

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  19. Look at Germany, we've spent 60 years de-militarizing their society, then get perturbed when they won't go to war.
    Half a world away

    The French may send 50 trainers to Afghanistan, the US negotiators think that is a "Strategic Shift".

    NATO cannot even send helicopters, needing to rent them from the Russians, instead.

    NATO needing those Warsaw Pact assets to project power.

    The threat to Europe is not in Afghanistan, it's in Pakistan.

    So it goes, so it continues.

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  20. ...And there's no sign whatsoever yet that things are going to get better, only worse.

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  21. Former NATO commander Marine General James Jones said as well that “at a time when the alliance seems to be willing to politically accept more missions in the world, there’s a contradiction here in resourcing and capacity.”

    The writing was on the wall long ago, cutler.

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  22. My understanding is that the helicopters need to be rented because those NATO countries who have fancy fighting helo's won't send them because of they'd be used in combat.

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  23. "Europe is underarmed, this is undoubtedly true and undeniable

    That depends upon the threat, does it not?

    What is the threat to Europe?

    Drugs, prostitution, sex slavery, auto theft?
    The Red Army is as underarmed as the western Europeans, aren't they?

    Who is staging to invade Latvia?

    The Europeans of today are in the position that the US and the Europeans of 1948 wanted them to be in. In the cause of peace.

    That is why the US took the Authority and the Responsibilty for European defense.
    The Europeans seem happy with where they are.

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  24. There's still a threat to Latvia, always will be so long as Russia is unpredictable.

    The U.S. might even feel a sense of honor to fulfil its commitments - fight Russia over Latvia or the other Baltic states.

    Most of the rest of the alliance certainly won't, however. The USSR was strong enough to threaten the Germans or French, Russia most likely not. In such a situation the Germans, French, or any number of other countries in the alliance would more likely make a buck off the situation than protect the Baltic states.

    Which is why, of course, NATO is now dysfunctional. No longer any common threat that everyone involved fears.

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  25. But in the meantime, few people want to acknowledge that an alliance 60 years old is so feeble. Given time they will.

    Well, that's just my view.

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  26. That alliance had outlived its original purpose by, oh, 1960.

    It's a political organization. Think Brussels, not Mons.

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  27. Wrong understanding, ash.

    The Canucks do not have any to send. The others do not want to send the crews.

    The Canucks need troop transports CH-47s. They are not in inventory. Boeing cannot build enough, the US is buying them all.

    Back in the 1980s, Canada's Mulroney government sold the country's CH-47 Chinook medium-lift helicopter fleet (eight airframes) to the Dutch. They cost a lot to maintain and operate, and Canada didn't need them anyway. Or so they thought. ...
    ...
    With troops on the ground right now who need these capabilities, delivery in 36-60 months will not meet the needs of Canada's fighting men and women in harm's way. A need their commanding officers have openly stated as a priority. Contrast Canada's approach to Australia's more proactive stance, for instance.

    UPDATE: Worse, the DND has found that delivery of the CH-47F Chinooks will not be complete until 2012.


    Hard to find much current info, but in 2005 the Dutch had 3 CH-47s in Afghanistan. There were demands that they be used in disaster relief in Pakistan, from the opposition Labour and Green-left parties in the Dutch parliament.

    The Norwegians said no, they had already have 100 troops in Afghanistan and that is enough.

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  28. Only the Russians and the Ukrainians have the assets.

    The rest, they don't study war, no mo'

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  29. CAIRO, Egypt (Associated Press) -- Al-Qaida sympathizers have unleashed a torrent of anger against Al-Jazeera television, accusing it of misrepresenting Osama bin Laden's latest audiotape by airing excerpts in which he criticizes mistakes by insurgents in Iraq.

    Users of a leading Islamic militant Web forum posted thousands of insults against the pan-Arab station for focusing on excerpts in which bin Laden criticizes insurgents, including his followers.

    Analysts said the reaction highlighted militants' surprise at bin Laden's words, and their dismay at the deep divisions among al-Qaida and other Iraqi militants that he appeared to be trying to heal.

    "It's not about Al-Jazeera, it's about their shock from bin Laden," said Diaa Rashwan, an Egyptian expert on Islamic militant groups. "For the first time, bin Laden, who used to be the spiritual leader who gives guidance, became a critic of al-Qaida and is confessing mistakes. This is unusual."

    "God fight Al-Jazeera," railed one militant Web poster, calling the station a "collaborator with the Crusaders" for suggesting the tape showed weakness in al-Qaida and featuring discussions of how the tape reflected weaknesses and divisions among insurgents in Iraq.

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  30. Cannot find 16 helicopters, withoout calling the Ruskies or some other ex-Warsaw Pact country...

    Gates said before the NATO session that he was not satisfied with the allies' efforts. In Heidelberg he was more direct and specific, telling the army chiefs that the stakes in Afghanistan are great.

    "If an alliance of the world's greatest democracies cannot summon the will to get the job done in a mission that we agree is morally just and vital to our security," he told the European army generals, "then our citizens may begin to question both the worth of the mission and the utility of the 60-year-old trans-Atlantic security project itself," referring to NATO, which was created in 1949.

    He cited one example that has been a particular irritant to Pentagon officials _ the allies' failure to provide a small number of helicopters to perform a mission deemed essential by the overall commander in Afghanistan. In the meantime, the U.S. military has bridged that gap, though reluctantly.

    "Consider that earlier this year the U.S. extended its aviation bridging force in Afghanistan _ in Kandahar _ because the mightiest and wealthiest military alliance in the history of the world was unable to produce 16 helicopters needed by the ISAF commander _ 16," Gates said. He used the acronym for the International Security Assistance Force, which is the NATO-led group that commands coalition forces.

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  31. "If an alliance of the world's greatest democracies cannot summon the will to get the job done in a mission that we agree is morally just and vital to our security," he told the European army generals, "then our citizens may begin to question both the worth of the mission and the utility of the 60-year-old trans-Atlantic security project itself," referring to NATO, which was created in 1949.

    ********************************

    Well, look, it was not that important to us five years ago. Pot - Kettle.

    We diverted our own resources, and have been doing so ever since.

    Gonna cry about it now?

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  32. Not only five years ago, but today, too

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  33. "Not only five years ago, but today, too"

    Absolutely.

    So much for "the worth of the mission."

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  34. And in Kosovo, we support the Islamists, well the practitioners of the Religion of Peace.

    So there we go.

    Proof of the pudding, they say, is in the tasting.

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  35. "If an alliance of the world's greatest democracies cannot summon the will to get the job done in a mission that we agree is morally just and vital to our security."

    At least one, possibly two presumptions in there that I'm sure a good number of the people listening [and speaking] knew were wrong, but loathe to admit.

    And, of course, all military organizations are by definition political.

    BTW, no hard feelings FellowPeacekeeper. I just had written up that stuff (and more) during an internal debate at work and felt like at least I'd get some public use of it posting it here.

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  36. You can never know, cutler, without speaking to them personally, whether they believe their own words or not. They've got a row to hoe, after all.

    But sometimes, no matter how idiotic, they do believe it.

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  37. "And, of course, all military organizations are by definition political."

    If that's in reference to my earlier comment: I was thinking about the division between NATO and SHAPE.

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  38. This from National Review

    Funding is the lifeblood of radical Islam. Organizations such as Hamas cleverly create divisions devoted to social-welfare work, not terrorist attacks. At first blush, supporting such work seems admirable. But contributions are fungible, and there is no policing what the donations subsidize after they are safely in a terrorist organization’s coffers. Even if they were spent on charitable work, they would still serve to increase the prestige and recruiting appeal of organizations that pursue their objectives through mass murder. No good works can redeem a Hamas — and the administration should do a better job of explaining why terror networks must be destroyed, not encouraged.

    So it would seem that the NRO will be advocating prosecuting the World Bank for its' fungible support of Iran.
    If what's right is right.

    Especially now that the Iranian Government is a terrorist organization, per Ms Rice and Mr Paulson.

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  39. When most people think of NATO, they're actually thinking of SHAPE, the military end of it, which they should not.

    Kind of like considering the UN a resource for peacekeeping. It's misleading.

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  40. Well, the Iranian Government has been a designated terrorist state for...a coon's age.

    We've just brought the IRGC into it.

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  41. I think, prior, they were Terror Sponsors ...

    Now they are Terrorists,
    since the IRGC has been decided to be part of their government.

    For whatever difference it makes

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  42. "I think, prior, they were Terror Sponsors ..."

    I'll buy that.

    "For whatever difference it makes"

    A few days ago Pat Lang had an interesting comment up from a French general - on the French view of Iran.

    To wit: The future of Iran belongs to the IRGC.

    You betcha.

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  43. But the French, they've designated the Armenian Genocide as being a genocide, and are deporting illegal aliens, so what would they know?

    They're just xenophobic and anti Islamic.

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  44. If I were the French, I might, too.

    Sucks to be a former colonist. That's where the backwash comes from, and they don't have the economy to support it.

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  45. desert rat said...
    Wrong understanding, ash.


    DR, this was the source for my understanding:

    "Canada, the only country with a major fighting role in southern Afghanistan that has no applicable helicopters of its own, may reap much of the benefit if NATO opts for commercial helicopters and pilots of fortune to fill the gaping holes in airlift capacity caused by Europeans unwilling to venture into conflict zones.

    Italy, Spain and France are among the Western European countries with large numbers of big, modern helicopters protected by sophisticated anti-missile defences and flown by highly trained crews. All three countries have turned a deaf ear to repeated pleas to deploy their aircraft to southern Afghanistan."

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071024.wafghanchoppers24/BNStory/Afghanistan/home

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  46. Sorry. Former colonizer.

    (Sounds like the punch line of proctology joke, doesn't it?)

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  47. They will not send the copters or the crews, not because they are the "wrong" type copters, which was my take of your saying
    "fancy fighting helo'".

    It's not gunships ("fancy fighting") copters, but transport birds that are needed. Sixteen of 'em.

    We will not send them, neither will anyone else in NATO.

    The Russians will return to Afghanistan, to maintain NATO's combat effectiveness.

    There has to be a message in that, somewhere.

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  48. You'd think we'd send those new Osprey to Afghanistan, for some real life shake down flights.

    If it was vital interest to the "Free World"

    Requiring a 110% committment.

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  49. Hire the Russian equivalent of Blackwater, to save our bacon in Afghanistan.

    Cosmic Karma ...

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  50. The Russians will return to Afghanistan, to maintain NATO's combat effectiveness.

    I am now in an Alice in Wonderland world. Please wake me when I can make some sense of things. Bob.

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  51. The view of the debate up here in Canada seems to revolve around the notion that Canada got stuck in a messy combat zone in the South of Afghanistan, the US is also in a combat role but everyone else are doing 'peacekeeping' and 'reconstruction'. Canadians are tired of having to actually fight and they want other NATO folk to jump in as well but..."deaf ears" seem to be the order of the day - from 'copters to troops willing to shoot their guns Canada is bearing an unfair share of the burden - or so the meme goes.

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  52. DR: You'd think we'd send those new Osprey to Afghanistan, for some real life shake down flights.

    Not while Cheney's running things. He hates the Osprey and tried to kill it.

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  53. DR: Hire the Russian equivalent of Blackwater, to save our bacon in Afghanistan.

    They're too busy running around Moscow intimidating journalists. That's Putin's praetorian guard.

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  54. Well, I for one would like to thank the Canadians.

    I wonder what the Canadians have to say about the prospect of a permanent presence in Afghanistan?

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  55. Not liking the thought at all Trish. The current mandate goes to 2009 and the debate swirls around what is to happen after that. If it is to be deployment in the south, hence more combat, then opposition will be tougher, if the deployment is a peacekeeing one then maybe there won't be too much squawking. Currently the main opposition parties are in favor of withdrawing in '09 but the minority conservative government is handling things pretty well by forming a commission headed by a high esteem opposition member (John Manley) to ponder what to do and maintaining that parliament must agree to the future course.

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  56. "You can never know, cutler, without speaking to them personally, whether they believe their own words or not. They've got a row to hoe, after all.

    But sometimes, no matter how idiotic, they do believe it."


    Yeah, I considered that might be an overstatement. I'm pretty sure thought that Gates, at least, is smart enough to know better.

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  57. Multi-National Corps – Iraq
    Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory

    CAMP TAJI, Iraq – The Sheiks Conference Center’s grand opening took place Oct. 18 near Taji, Iraq. Sheiks of all tribes, Iraqi police, Iraqi Army, representatives of the Iraqi government, Iraqi security volunteers as well as 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division troops gathered at the center with a common goal – reconciliation.

    “The gathering is immense,” said Lt. Col. Kevin MacWatters, commander, 1st Squadron 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. “It’s another step toward progress.”

    During the grand opening ceremony the Sunni and Shia sheiks greeted each other, sat together, conversed and feasted collectively – many for the first time ever – symbolizing the unity in their desires.

    “The location provides a headquarters for all tribes and security forces to work together for the people of Taji,” said MacWatters, a Mustang, Okla., native.

    Prior to acquiring this neutral location, the meetings were held at various locations. The conference center is located between Sunni and Shia tribes’ locales allowing a consistent place where everyone can be comfortable during reconciliation meetings.
    ...
    Prior to reconciliation efforts, the Ironhorse Brigade’s main focus during their deployment was security, however, as a result of the recent unions security has improved in the brigade’s area of operations – mainly thanks to the joint efforts of the Iraqi people, local Iraqi government officials, tribal leaders, Ironhorse troops, Iraqi Security Volunteers and Iraqi Security Forces.

    Reconciliation efforts will allow the Ironhorse Brigade to spend their last few months in Iraq focusing more on helping Iraqis with essential services, rebuilding and assisting local Iraqi governments.

    The conference center, in essence, is a monument to all that has been accomplished and a preface to establishing a safe, stable and secure environment, MacWatters said.

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  58. The only thing worse than a permanent presence in Iraq


    is a permanent presence in Afghanistan.

    ***********************************


    I hope so, cutler.

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  59. I think that the only hope for a semi sane Afghanistan is the presence of lots of western troops. With out that influence, it is barbarity, and we all know it. The only question is whether it is worth it, from our point of view.

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  60. As well as whatever depends on a semi-sane Afghanistan.

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  61. As well as whatever depends on a semi-sane Afghanistan.

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  62. This is a really good book. I learned that most of the women have not been out of their village in their entire life. My wife, bless her, would not put up with this state of affairs. What to do, what to do? I'm not sure that I know.

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  63. Worthwhile debate between D'Souza and Hitchens on Christianity.

    Having seen most but not all of it, I didn't expect D'Sourza to be so articulate. Probably tactically won on points, imo.

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  64. "I learned that most of the women have not been out of their village in their entire life. My wife, bless her, would not put up with this state of affairs. What to do, what to do? I'm not sure that I know."

    Who gives a rat's ass what to do, what to do? Should we take them on field trips?

    C'mon, bob, stop playing Onward Christian Soldier.

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  65. Or, at least, play it privately, and leave the United States Military out of your fantasies of de-barbarizing societies that you are not remotely familiar with.

    Please.

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  66. Hrmmm, just got a rejected letter from probably my number one job choice...well, that much closer to military...

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  67. Oh, cutler.



    What are you seeking to do in the military?

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  68. Yes, thanks, that's my son's answer.

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  69. We do press upon those considering it, to VERY CAREFULLY CHOOSE one's Functional Area or MOS.

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  70. Might as well spill the beans (I previously was thinking that if I eventually accomplished it I'd spring it on you guys afterwards).

    Specifically, military intelligence (the job in question was the CIA, I'm also applying to all the other intelligence services).

    Abstractly, continue to learn, serve my country, avoid a soul-less consulting job (though I've obviously got nothing against private-sector).

    Half-jokingly, I figure that even if I screw up the rest of my life, I'd still be able to be proud of that, so it would take a little of the pressure off.

    As it was I was hoping I'd get an analyst position with the CIA and still go for a reserve commission with military intelligence. Depending on how it goes with the rest of the applications, maybe there's still room for that.

    Don't know what branch I'm interested in yet (heavy pressure from the parents on this one). As I've mentioned before I've got some health issues...but I seem to be making serious progress with my stamina, so for probably the first time in my life I'm actually thinking I could pull it off.

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  71. Is it to be an experience or a career, that's the first question to be asked in regards the branch or MOS.

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  72. Yeah I was also debating myself over asking your advice on that - specifically how I can get military intelligence, as well as the risks (i.e., what happens if you sign a contract and then fail your security clearance?). I've heard different things from different people.

    For the moment, between work, girlfriend (who I guess I've also never mentioned), school, and other job applications, I haven't been able to do as much research as I'd like.

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  73. MI!!!

    I'm titillated.

    I can see you as an analyst, cutler.

    Bad time for tactical MI, though.

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  74. Are you or will you be a Distinguished Military Grad?

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  75. I take that as a No.

    OK. Many moons ago your only hope of getting branch of choice was DMG. Sometimes not even then, as branch transfer status was not uncommon.

    The set up may have changed. (One of the ways in which enlisting is easier than commissioning; you absolutely know what you're in for. If that's terribly important to you.)

    As an officer, you have to be able to acquire a Secret clearance. As an MI officer, you have to be able to acquire a Top Secret.

    Failing the latter, you have to be branch reassigned.

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  76. Insofar as experience or career, I haven't decided yet. Probably experience, then take another shot at the intel community. But I guess would also depend on how much I liked my duties. Sticking in and eventually being able to go to one of the military general staff colleges would probably be a dream...

    A. Why's it a bad time for tactical intel?

    B. Are you or will you be a Distinguished Military Grad?

    Forgive my naivety, but I don't understand the question.

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  77. For what it's worth I'll be graduating with an MA in international security from the best school in the country in that field.

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  78. Yeah, I'm a bit worried about clearance, for a number of reasons (mostly not having to do with myself, but family).

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  79. Which is my biggest fear. I sign up for military intelligence, fail the clearance, and then am basically completely in their hands.

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  80. Distinguished Military Student/Distinguished ­Military Graduate

    Distinguished Army ROTC students are so designated by the professor of military science on the basis of high scholarship, evidence of high moral character, military aptitude, and demonstrated leadership ability. Distinguished Military Graduates are those who rank in the top 20 percent of Army ROTC graduates nationwide.


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  81. A. Why's it a bad time for tactical intel?

    It's a friggin' mess.

    B. Are you or will you be a Distinguished Military Grad?

    Forgive my naivety, but I don't understand the question.

    Sorry, that's for Academy and ROTC types.

    If you REALLY want to do intel, you can always enlist and choose your field. Then go Warrant (excellent for intel). And/or apply again to the Agency with some experience.

    Top Secrets are harder to come by now and all I can say is be honest and wish you luck. If you don't get it, you don't get it.

    I can ask about red flags.

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  82. Well, if I enlisted I'm almost entirely sure that my parents would kill me before anyone else had a chance to.

    Forgive another stupid question.

    But is there anyway to get a contract that gets me MI (active or reserve), but bumps me out of the service if I fail the clearance?

    I'm not a pansy or anything, but yeah, I do want to go into the intelligence community.

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  83. I realize it isn't like shopping at Wal-Mart, just checking my options.

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  84. But is there anyway to get a contract that gets me MI (active or reserve), but bumps me out of the service if I fail the clearance?

    I'll ask, cutler. I'd be surprised if that were the case.

    I'm not a pansy or anything, but yeah, I do want to go into the intelligence community.

    Hey. We are not pansies, buddy. We are geeks. And damn proud of it.

    Fri Oct 26, 03:40:00 AM EDT

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  85. I had a Pakistani friend (well, really downgraded an aquaintance at this point) who had a good job at State lined up but basically got it cancelled because he didn't get through the clearance process (family all over the place). Wound up working at a consulting firm, not very happy.

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  86. trish said...

    A. Why's it a bad time for tactical intel?

    It's a friggin' mess.

    I'm not very familiar with Military structures, process, and politics, though might not that be one of the best times to get in. Sort of like investing in the markets when they are down - loads of opportunities for growth but, admittedly, many many pitfalls. If things are going swimmingly I usually find bureaucratic structures are virtually impermeable to climb aboard unless you follow the beaten path times of turmoil can present unusual opportunities.

    simple musings from a neophyte...

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  87. If things are going swimmingly I usually find bureaucratic structures are virtually impermeable to climb aboard unless you follow the beaten path times of turmoil can present unusual opportunities.

    simple musings from a neophyte...

    Fri Oct 26, 09:05:00 AM EDT

    Rule #1: Things are never going swimmingly.

    Rule #2: Bureaucracies are bureaucracies are bureaucracies, war or no.

    Rule #3: Stay away from Big Army.

    These are indeed interesting times with interesting challenges, but in order to take full advantage of these greater care and knowledge must be exercised in the process of getting and staying on board and keeping your sanity.

    To be able to sit down and talk beforehand to someone with broad, recent experience in your preferred line of work - before you take the plunge - is invaluable. I wouldn't recommend that anyone sally forth otherwise, though the vast majority obviously does.

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